Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant had a collision with Heat star Jimmy Butler which caused him to land awkwardly on his right knee in the third quarter of their matchup on January 8. The All-Star forward tried to play through the pain but was visibly hobbled. It took just one defensive possession for Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn to call a timeout to get Durant out of the game, after which he went to the locker room and did not return.
Durant had an MRI on January 9 to determine the severity of his injury. He was diagnosed with a sprained right MCL and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, per the team.
“Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant has been diagnosed with an isolated MCL sprain of the right knee. The injury occurred during the third quarter of last night’s game at Miami. Durant will be reevaluated in two weeks,” the Nets tweeted on January 9.
This is not Durant’s first rodeo with an MCL sprain. The Nets star suffered the same injury last season, which held him out of action for six weeks. It was also one of the catalysts that led to former Nets guard James Harden requesting a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. But ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reports that there is “optimism” that Durant won’t miss as much time with the injury as he did last season.
“While Kevin Durant did miss six weeks with a left MCL sprain a season ago, there’s optimism that this is a less severe injury unlikely to cost him more than a month on the sidelines,” Wojnarowski tweeted on January 9.
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Kevin Durant Injury Cools Nets Upcoming Bout With Celtics
You never want to see any player go down with an injury. But it is an especially sour feeling when a player of Durant’s caliber, who adds so much value to the game, is sidelined for an extended period. But an even greater disappointment is that Durant’s injury comes amid a stretch where the Nets were the hottest team in the NBA, winning 14 of their last 15 contests.
Another thing to factor in is that Durant will be sidelined, with a clash against another Eastern Conference juggernaut, the Boston Celtics, next on Brooklyn’s schedule. For those who may be tardy to the party, the Celtics eliminated the Nets in the first round of last year’s playoffs by way of a 4-0 sweep.
Ben Simmons did not play in that series, and Kyrie was sort of thrown in the fire late in the season after missing an extended period for not being vaccinated. With the Nets fully loaded this year, fans were interested to see what a bout with the Celtics would look like with the Nets fully loaded. However, with Durant now sidelined with that MCL sprain, everything changes.
Nicolas Claxton Sends Message on Nets Roster
With Durant scheduled to be out for an extended period, one player who could get their number called more often is Nets big man Nicolas Claxton. Claxton is having the best season of his career and leads the NBA in blocks per game and field goal percentage.
For so long, the narrative around the Nets was that they needed a legit starting center to be considered contenders. Amid his breakout season, Claxton is hoping to put those rumors to bed.
“Everybody, especially earlier in the season, ‘oh, they need this, they need a big, they need that,’ but we have everything we need when everybody is on the court, locked in, and we’re all scrambling, playing hard,” Claxton said to YES reporter Meghan Triplett after their win over the New Orleans Pelicans on January 6.
“We have enough length to where it gives us bigger guys fits like it did tonight against a Valanciunas. So, yeah, we good with everything we got in the locker room and we just got to keep building.”
The Nets have three days off before they clash with the Boston Celtics on January 12.